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Qr Codes Threaten Internet Security

The QR code for this site (CACM.ACM.0rg).

Internet security researchers says Quick Response (QR) codes require what could be a dangerous level of trust from users, who can find it difficult to determine what they are about to download.


Quick Response (QR) codes could demand a dangerous level of trust from users, according to Internet security researchers from Murdoch University.

Professor Nik Thompson says it is hard for users to determine what they are about to download because QR codes can only be read by a machine such as a smartphone.

QR codes are often used to direct people to URLs, contact details, and other online content, for marketing purposes. However, they can be used to maliciously install malware on devices, direct people to questionable websites, or subscribe them to unwanted services.

"Most of us are familiar with standard barcodes, which have been used safely for decades, and so don't understand the risks associated with QR codes," Thompson says.

One way to avoid scammers is to use QR code readers that enable users to view the entire URL before going to a site. Thompson also says there are many anti-malware apps available from well-known security companies. "Internet users need to be just as cautious with their mobile and tablet devices as they are with their laptop and desktop computers," he says.

From Murdoch University
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